I was a keynote speaker at a healthcare physicians conference where a lady approached me at the cocktail reception the night before my speech. I recognized her immediately- it was Barbara, who had hired me as a speaker for a nursing conference a year earlier.
Barbara explained that she is not allowed to come to the opening keynote session. She is accompanying her husband (a physician) at the conference and spouses are only invited to the cocktail party and not the educational sessions or to hear the keynote speaker.
This is not the first time I have seen this, sadly. Why do conventions not include spouses in the convention sessions?
Why Invite Spouses to a Convention:
- You could save marriages and make money. Spouses are potentially paying customers who would love to participate and understand more about their spouses' work. This is a great opportunity for them to finally understand why their partner comes home exhausted and frustrated because of new industry rules and regulations (and potentially takes it out on them).
- The keynote speaker and general session are usually general, educational and interesting enough that spouses would enjoy them too. Couples who laugh, have fun and learn together stay together.
- Conventions are often the only opportunity people have to travel and vacation, many will want to do this with their family.
- Inviting spouses to the convention will boost attendance. Be creative and add a few session designed specifically for spouses. They can be as general as cooking or more specific skill building like communications (ie- how to communicate with the opposite sex would be a crowd pleaser). A meeting planner could hire a speaker for a physician conference who addresses how physicians think, or understanding a physician's stress. Interactive sessions with spouses are always a hit.
- Industry issues affect the whole family. If a spouse loses their job, the whole family suffers. When a spouse is relocated it impacts the entire family.
- Some ideas: How to be a Resilient Spouse would be a great break out session, or host a Spouse Appreciation night
More Resources on How to Plan a Meeting or Convention
For more information on the Steps to Hire a Keynote Speaker Here.